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Professor evaluates Republican Convention

Jillian Barwick | Thursday, September 6, 2012

As the presidential candidates grace the screens of televisions across the nation, Michael Kramer, political communication professor at Saint Mary’s, offered up his own take on the Republican National Convention (RNC) and what it meant for the Romney-Ryan ticket.

“The conventions are important for the candidates because for many people in the public it is the first time they are paying close attention to the people in the campaign,” Kramer said. “For the average person, this is their chance to start tuning in.”

Candidates can use the conventions not only as a chance to let voters get to know their policies and views on the country, but also to get to know their family lives, Kramer said.

“The RNC was a great opportunity for Mitt Romney to let the people of America know him in a way they have yet to see,” Kramer said.

Kramer said pundits have been scrutinizing the RNC speeches since they were made.

“Since the RNC wrapped up last week, there [have] been many opinions on the speeches given,” Kramer said. “I think overall it went well for the Republican candidates.”

As far as the logistics of the convention, Kramer said there were no major problems for them.

“They had some very good speeches given by Ann Romney and Condoleezza Rice,” Kramer said.

After Ann Romney and Rice spoke, the main candidates, Paul Romney and Ryan, spoke to the audience.

“I think both speeches had good strengths to them and helped the candidates,” Kramer said. “But then both of them also had distractions that went with them.”

Ryan’s speech was powerful, but many questioned whether he exaggerated parts of it or emphasized things about the story that weren’t necessarily true, Kramer said.

“That became more of the focus of his speech rather than the message he set out to convey,” Kramer said. “I thought that was a distraction for people.”

Kramer acknowledged Romney’s speech as helpful, but he also said it became distracting when his main message was lost.

“I thought he was able to convey himself in more of a human way than people usually perceive him,” Kramer said. “But then you had the whole Clint Eastwood speech, in which Eastwood talk[ed] to an empty chair for 12 minutes and was pretending Obama was actually sitting in.”

This display from Eastwood was very awkward for the audience, Kramer said.

“It was heavily criticized and this turned the attention away from Romney’s speech,” he said. “People seemed to linger toward the distractions of Eastwood’s speech.”
For Romney, the distractions may be detrimental to his campaign, Kramer said.
“He wants people to be discussing his speech, not someone else’s moment in the spotlight,” Kramer said.
Overall, Romne– and Ryan portrayed their beliefs in the way they had set out to do, Kramer said.
“Unfortunately, it was not as clean as they thought it would be,” he said. “The distractions of others were unforeseen, but they definitely have made an impression on voters.”